Representative Kim Thatcher - endorser

Oregon State Representative
Keizer, Oregon

I’m concerned the new driver’s cards will not positively impact the number of insured drivers on the road, will roll back public safety, will encourage more people to live here illegally, and will give state-endorsed documentation to the undocumented

In regards to state issued ID - in the form of driver privilege cards- to illegal aliens, I am talking about adults who have made a conscience decision not to go through the legal process.

I am talking about those who made a conscience decision to be here illegally. You have to wonder if someone is willing to disregard immigration laws, what other laws are they willing to disregard.

Our state has determined that driving is a privilege. It is not a right. We should be very careful about who we allow the privilege of driving on Oregon roads.

In 2008, the legislature enacted tougher standards in State law to insure only those with proper legal presence were issued Oregon driver licenses. Which brings me to the reason we changed the law in the first place. The same reasons that were used to toughen the DL standards are reasons that backers of this law are asking you to change the law now - it is the impact on public safety. In 2007, Governor Kulongoski and many others called for stricter rules in the interest of public safety. In an executive order the Governor said, “that it is clear that Oregon must tighten its standards for the obtaining Oregon driver’s licenses and ID cards in order to more effectively prevent fraud and criminal activity”.

A former executive of the Oregon Traffic Safety Commission sent me a note talking about his experiences. He talked about a big problem for fatal and injury crashes involving drivers who were in our state illegally, and he is speaking about a time before we stopped issuing DL to people not here legally. Since we adopted the new rules 5 years ago, ODOT says in the conclusion to their report that was commissioned by this body that there has been no significant increase in unlicensed and uninsured drivers.

So let’s talk about insurance for a minute. Proponents say that this bill will somehow require these new drivers to have automobile insurance. Let’s be clear. There is no requirement in state law that you have to have insurance in order to get a DL. But there is one that says that the car you are driving must be covered by insurance. So handing out these new cards will not guarantee that the vehicle being driven will be insured. My constituent in Newberg summed it up this way. “The last time I checked, a legal resident of Oregon can apply for and be issued a DL without owning a car”.

Insurance companies insure automobiles not drivers, with the principal driver being named on the insurance policy for proposes of establishing insurance rates and liability in the event of a claim. He goes on to say that “An illegal immigrant (and I’ll add anyone) that is issued a DL and drives a car will not be guaranteed to have insurance on any car he or she drives.

You will also hear advocates say that this won’t be used as a form of ID, but that it is for driving only. That depends on the context. What do you mean by ID? Will you be able to get on an airplane with this? No. Can you use it to set up bank accounts and cash checks? Yes. Will you use it to be able to vote? No. But you will be able to use it for many other things. And, some people will call it a breeder document because you will be able to get more and more established with documents such as this.

What I am saying is that you cannot un-ring the bell. Once this ID is out there, because it is ID, it can probably be used for all sorts of purposes. And that is the point. The state will be issuing a legal government document. It’s like a state sanctioned permission to be on a road, and therefore in our country.

Another constituent wrote me and said ‘we are going to document the undocumented”. Well, think about that for a minute. One day, a person is in the US illegally and without legal documents, and the next day we are saying “OK here is an official state document that says you can drive on our streets”.

I’ve heard a lot of complaints from constituents about how difficult it is to get a regular 8 year DL. I am concerned we are setting up a double standard. For those who say this new drivers card will help Grandma who can’t track down her birth certificate back to 19xx, or the homeless veteran who can’t find his military ID or his other documents. Neither one can get an 8 year DL right now. I say yes, let’s help those people and improve the current system. Let’s not go back to the days when our ID standards jeopardized public safety. The point is that the homeless vet and that Grandma are here legally, so we should focus on taking care of the law abiding citizen, instead of allowing Oregon to once again become a magnet for illegal immigrants. It is like we are setting up an express lane for one group of people, but the other group has to jump through additional hoops for their documents from the state granting them permission to use the roads. This bothers me.

It leads to the bigger picture which is “are we sending the wrong message?” Supporters even put in the committee testimony that they wanted these undocumented people to follow the law by getting these drivers cards.

So, do we get to pick and choose which laws we want to follow without any consequences? In other words, it’s OK for the State of Oregon to break this federal immigration law - the State of OR will look the other way and give me a driver’s card so I can use it for all sorts of things.

Let’s stop for a minute. Let’s look at who can and who can’t have a DL in Oregon right now. There are nearly 200,000 Oregonians who get their licenses suspended or revoked every year. There are a hundred reasons that that can happen. DUII, too many speeding tickets, failure to pay traffic fines, failure to have your car insured, failure to file an accident report on time, failed to pay child support – all reasons we deny licenses right now. So what are we saying with this bill is that this is a public safety issue. As long as you can pass the driver’s education tests and, provide some form of ID, obviously they are going to get insurance and it is OK for them to have state permission to drive to work, to church, to school, whatever.

So if we follow that logic should we give the licenses back to all those who had their licenses suspended? They don’t have a license anymore, but they need to get to work, church and school and they’ve shown the ID and passed the driver’s test. Why don’t we just look the other way and ignore those laws that made them ineligible to drive.

I am sure that most of the people that are here without documents are here seeking a better life for their families, and I believe most mean well. But good intentions don’t outweigh the fact that they are disobeying the law by being in this country illegally. I'm also sure that a lot of those with a suspended license had good intentions too. But we are not giving them a license to drive, because they broke certain laws. So where do we draw the line?

We are talking about the fundamentals of the rule of law. If we adopt government policies and laws condoning illegal and unlawful behavior aren’t we jeopardizing the rule of law?

For a free society, the citizens need to respect and obey the laws. If there is a problem for good people from other countries wanting to be part of our society legally and to obey the law, let’s fix federal law. If legal residents are having a problem getting a regular OR DL, let’s address that problem. But let’s not set up a 2 tier system that enables criminal and fraudulent activity that rolls back public safety, and may not make any difference in the number of cars with insurance and that encourages people to be here illegally. This rewards law breaking and gives illegal’s a drivers cards.

Immigration is not a bad thing. Breaking the law is. I would rather encourage legal immigration and discourage law breaking. Let’s not send the wrong message with the wrong law.

Kim Thatcher has a rare combination of grace and grit. She ran for the legislature because many of her friends, family and contacts in the community were not happy with the way state government was run, especially in the ways it was hurting small businesses.

At the Oregon State Capitol Kim has earned the reputation for being a strong taxpayer watchdog and advocate for government accountability. She has also been a leader in the effort to bring sensible immigration reform to our state and protecting our Second Amendment rights.

Kim is the owner of two small companies that do work in the road construction industry. She is the mother of four great kids, married to Karl for 27 years.